Despite facing a tough situation back home, India has extended all the possible assistance to its neighbours

From sending Covid vaccines, masks and test kits to supplying oxygen, India has assisted the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries during the pandemic in all possible ways.

A tough Covid situation internally did not stop India from adhering to its international responsibilities and the mantra of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (World is a family).”

PM Modi united SAARC countries in fight against Covid

India has been leading SAARC cooperation in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. Taking cognizance of the Covid situation, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had interacted with the leaders of SAARC nations during the very beginning of the pandemic.

On March 15, 2020, PM Modi interacted with SAARC leaders through video conference to chart out a common strategy in order to combat COVID-19 in the region.

Based on voluntary contributions from all the countries, he proposed the setting up of a Covid-19 Emergency Fund for SAARC countries, with India making an initial offer of US $10 million for the fund. He ensured assembling a Rapid Response Team of doctors and specialists, along with testing kits and other equipment, to place at the disposal of the countries.

The Prime Minister also ensured arranging for online training capsules for the emergency response teams of the neighbouring countries and sharing of software behind India’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Portal to help trace possible virus carriers and the people they contacted.

On February 18 this year, PM Modi addressed a SAARC Health Secretary-level meeting virtually on the Covid-19 crisis. He proposed the formulation of a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses amid the pandemic. PM Modi also spoke about a possible agreement on starting a regional air ambulance service and creating a platform for coordinated study of COVID-19 vaccines.

How India has helped SAARC nations tackle the pandemic

Nepal

On Thursday, India donated a medical oxygen plant to Nepal to help the Himalayan nation in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, the plant is designed to cater to provide 5 LPM (Litre per Minute) per person, amounting to a total capacity of 960 LPM.

India had gifted Nepal 23 tonnes of medicines and test kits on April 22, 2021.

In May 2021, India donated 30,000 home-made Pathodetect COVID-19 Qualitative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test kits to Nepal.

In June, the Indian Army gifted Nepali Army medical aid worth over Rs 18.02 crore. The Indian Army handed over medical aid including ventilators, ambulances, Intensive Care Unit beds, Personal Protective Equipment sets and PCR test kits.

Bangladesh

India handed over 40 more ambulances with in-built life support equipment, alongside nearly 20 tonnes of essential medical apparatus, to Bangladesh on Thursday.

Prime Minister Modi had announced the gift of 109 ambulances to Bangladesh during his state visit on March 26-27. So far, 71 ambulances have been given to Bangladesh.

Two weeks ago, Dhaka received the seventh oxygen express train, carrying 186 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen under a procurement agreement; the first consignment had reached on July 24 to help treat COVID-19 patients in Bangladesh hospitals.

In January 2021, India had sent over 20 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine as a gift to Bangladesh.

On 25 March, Dhaka received the first tranche of Indian emergency medical assistance containing 30000 surgical masks and 15000 caps. The second Indian consignment consisted of 50000 sterile surgical latex gloves and 100000 Hydroxychloroquine medicine tablets.

In May 2021, India sent 30,000 COVID-19 test kits to Bangladesh as part of its emergency medical assistance.

Sri Lanka

Four days ago, Indian Naval Ship Shakti carrying 100 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen reached Sri Lanka to help the island nation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August 25, 2021, New Delhi has provided 280 tonnes of oxygen to Sri Lanka.

In April-May 2020, close to 26 tonnes of essential medical supplies were gifted to Sri Lanka.

Bhutan

Bhutan was the first country to receive India's gift of the COVID-19 vaccines. So far, India has donated 550,000 doses of Covid vaccine to Bhutan.

In April, India sent a consignment of medical supplies under the coronavirus Emergency Fund to Bhutan to assist the country.

Maldives

In January 2021, India gifted 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Maldives for vaccinating healthcare workers. In addition to the doses gifted, India also assisted the Maldives in securing supplies of vaccines at affordable rates from Indian manufacturing companies.

Last year, in September, Maldives thanked India for the financial assistance of $250 million amid the COVID-19 pandemic.